Mohamed Morsi and Hassan El-Banna: Two peas in a pod

Said Shehata , Sunday 23 Sep 2012

Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan El-Banna died before Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi was born, but both men share the same vision for Egypt

Hassan El-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, built a strong organisation that spread throughout the Islamic world, but he failed to turn Egypt into a state that reflected his vision.

President Mohamed Morsi, a long-time member of the group, has been trying to change Egypt into a real Islamic state and achieve the goals of El-Banna. While El-Banna faced difficulties, Morsi has found it easier to take decisions that reflect the Brotherhood's goals.

El-Banna's charisma and eloquence helped him gain friends and supporters. On the other hand, Morsi’s power as president has enabled him to progress quicker towards his dream. El-Banna travelled many miles to take his message to all corners of Egypt.

Morsi also travelled inside and outside Egypt to gain friends and strengthen his position as an Islamic leader. El-Banna represented a religious-political organisation and Morsi represents both the Brotherhood and Egypt.

It seems Morsi follows the philosophy and goal of El-Banna. Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh recently accused President Morsi of not distancing himself from the Brotherhood and making decisions that were not transparent. Abul-Fotouh was a member of the Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau, the highest office in the group, and therefore should know what he is talking about. This writer once warned Morsi that he should distance himself from the group when in office. However, it seems that he failed to do so.

El-Banna was clear in his speeches that his aim was to build both an Islamic state and an Islamic Caliphate. But Morsi has tried to disguise his goal by insisting that he serves Egypt and wants to build a democratic country. However, his actions and decisions tell different story.

Once he promised to appoint a Christian vice-president, but ended up merely appointing Samir Marcos (a Christian) as an assistant. There is no clear mandate for Marcos to carry out his duties as an assistant to the president. History repeats itself. While El-Banna had three Christian advisors, Morsi has one Christian advisor and another one as assistant. Morsi wants to be seen as a fair president. He did not keep his promise to appoint a Christian as vice-president, which does not sit well the Brotherhood's project to establish an ideal Islamic state.

He put members or pro-Brotherhood personnel in all corners of the Egyptian government, such as the army, police and media. He condemned the anti-Islam film that was produced in the US, but did nothing when Sheikh Abou Islam tore the Bible in front of demonstrators. Nageeb Gabrail, the lawyer of Bishoy Kameel who was sentenced to six years in prison because of the claim that he mocked Islam on his Facebook page, told the BBC that there were 32 cases before courts in Egypt with regard to mocking Christianity but nothing had been done about them. It looks like there is a gap between Morsi’s promises and his actions and decisions.

Morsi easily leads Egypt without strong opposition. He Islamises the country and has been successful in implementing an organised plan to change Egypt into the leading Islamic country in the region. Morsi might be successful in achieving his goal in the absence of a strong domestic opposition and real pressure from regional and international actors, especially the US.

If the Islamic state according to the Brotherhood's vision is democratic, I will be the first one to support it as I have long backed the group's right to form a political party and play a role in Egyptian politics. However, Morsi and the Brotherhood remind me of the former regime.

The Brotherhood's Islamisation train should be stopped for the sake of Egypt and Egyptians. There is an imbalance of power between Morsi and the Brotherhood and other political forces. This should be corrected in order to avoid an Islamist state that might be harmful and undemocratic.

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